Weight Training for a Marathon

Weight Training for a Marathon

Note: This is from the Jim Wendler forum.  The question is about weight training for a marathon; the athlete has not run a marathon before but does have lifting experience.  Even if you don't want to run a marathon but would like to get back into running, this programming concept can get you there.

I've been sitting on this one awhile. I sat down and mapped out a very general program for myself (if it were me training a marathon). Also, this fit into some of the recommendations I had with some sprinters at London and how they should train.

What you need to do:
1. Sit down and map out the running program for next 6-8 weeks. And then start doing it. Base it on what kind of shape you are in, your background, etc. - I don't know these things and only you do and this needs to be addressed first and foremost.

2. During the first 4 weeks of the running, AIM to do the following three days/week. HOWEVER, if you cannot do the lifting, don't do it. If your body is revolting, ease back on the lifting to 2 days/week. The first month needs to acclimate you to the running stress.


Bench Press


Trap Bar




Assistance for the first part of the training needs to be VERY easy; you will do 3 assistance movements/day. Choose any movement you are 10000% used to doing (don't introduce any new movements), nothing that kills recovery and EVERYTHING that is physically/mentally easy. Each day, perform at least one assistance movement for push and one for pull. The third movement should be GHR's and abdominal work. Preferably hanging leg raises, leg raises or roman chair sit-ups (choose one per workout). The volume of these two things (GHR/ab) need only be 2-3 sets per workout; maybe 10-25 total reps of each.

The upper body push/pull can be whatever you want to do provided you NEVER get sore or allow it to affect your running/recovery.

Main Lifts

  • Trap Bar - all reps must be fast/explosive and with total focus. I'd never go over 5 reps/set.
  • Bench/Press - you can go a little nuts on these (PR sets), but I wouldn't do BBB or anything similar. Let the assistance be your volume.

The key to the training, at this point, is to prep your body for the stresses and not doing something stupid in training. I have said this point 10000 times and I swear it seems like no one is listening. Once you get over that hump, you can start adjusting the training based on your daily readiness.

Remember that if you feel good, that means you are doing something right. I can't tell you how many people I've worked with complain when they feel good. I'm all for doing stupid things but they have to be done carefully and rarely. Your recovery is paramount at this point and if you f*ck with that, you'll dig yourself a hole that will take you weeks/months to get out of.

I personally use the trap bar (bar speed) chins/pull-ups and bench press for a readiness evaluation for the athletes. You need to find your readiness test(s) for yourself and you will smash your training. Just leave it to chance and you'll be fighting a war on two sides and never get close to the finish line!


You might also be interested in reading Running, Lifting and Becoming a Marine Officer.

Related Posts